This article offers that when debates arise over the propriety of using certain weapons systems, an outright or systematic ban of that weapon system should rarely be the outcome. Rather, it is far more appropriate to provide armies with as many tools as possible to bring an armed conflict to a quick and decisive end and to hold those commanders and warfighters accountable to using those tools in accordance with international law, treaties, and norms. To do otherwise would unnecessarily handcuff and endanger those that are doing the fighting. This article presents this argument through the lens of the United States’ policy toward using white phosphorus munitions in urban contexts. This article evaluates that policy and concludes that it is both legal and appropriate provided that targeting decisions are made in accordance with traditional law of armed conflict principles and with an eye toward humanitarian imperatives.
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